Week 11 presented the Broncos with a chance to gain some ground on the Chiefs as the Chiefs lost to the New York Giants but the Broncos failed to capitalize on that chance and lost to the Bengals which dropped them to the 15th seed in the AFC which translates into the #4 pick (as of now) in the 2018 NFL draft.
Pittsburgh owns the #1 seed and home-field advantage at this point in time due to a better AFC record over #2 New England, who at this point would earn a bye. The top two seeds(as of now) play each other in week 15 which will help shape the final seeding. The Jaguars come in at 7-3 and the #3 seed thanks to the Chiefs loss to the Giants, and the Chiefs as AFC West Champs(as of now) come in at 4th. Tennessee, a game back of Jacksonville in the AFC South comes in at #5 and Baltimore edges the Bills for # with a better AFC record. Buffalo didn’t do themselves any favors last week making a change at QB who went on to throw 5 first have interceptions.
Playoff Match Ups
If the playoffs started this weekend, #6 Baltimore would travel to #3 Jacksonville, #5 Tennessee would travel to #4 Kansas City.
Broncos Playoff Hopes
While they are not mathematically eliminated the chances of making the playoffs have weakened each week.
As noted a couple of weeks ago, the Broncos best chance at the playoffs remain with winning the AFC West. They sit 3 games behind the Chiefs with a week 17 showdown scheduled. Even if you pencil in a Week 17 win for Denver, they have their work cut out for them and would require both Oakland & Los Angeles to lose key games, while also beating KC.
The wild card is a bust. Too many teams in between the Broncos and the 6 spot. As noted a couple of weeks ago, the Broncos best chance at the playoffs remain with winning the AFC West.
Final 6 opponents
The good news is that only one of the last 6 opponents has a winning record, but the Broncos are 2-3 vs teams with losing records, so that distinction might not matter.
The bad news is that Kansas City and LA face even a weaker schedule over the final 6 weeks
Their only hope at the playoffs is winning the west and I wouldn’t suggest betting the house on it. It will take a lot of help and the right outcomes to key games. A 6-0 finish would put them at 9-7 and for an out right division win, with no tiebreakers coming into play, the Chiefs would have to finish 2-4, the Chargers would have to finish 4-2 at worst, Oakland would have to finish 4-2 at worst. Essentially, all eyes are on the Chiefs.
- Kansas City will not receive the benefit of seeing Week 2 of the Peterman experiment, so Buffalo will be a tougher test for them than they were last week for the Chargers. Appreciate that Buffalo.
- San Diego plays the Elliot-less Cowboys who are seeded 10th in the NFC and might still have Wild-card hopes of their own.
- Denver @ Oakland: Who knows what to expect at this point. New OC vs a new DC, new QB. It can go in any direction.
Best Case Scenario
Denver beats Oakland, KC/LA lose which would push the Broncos into 2nd place based on the 3-2 Division record with the Chargers coming in at 2-2 and Oakland at 1-3 and they gain a game on Kansas City.
It’s a lot to ask for, but in this stranger than fiction season,
Worst Case Scenario
The losing streak continues KC/LA win and the Broncos move 2 games behind the 2nd & 3rd place Chargers/Raiders. and 4 behind the 1st place Chiefs.